Over the past two weeks many sororities and fraternities on campus have completed their formal recruitment process with participation far exceeding previous years.
This semester, 545 men accepted bids for Interfraternity Council fraternities and 790 women became a part of the Panhellenic Association — combined that’s 270 more students than last year. Members of the organizations’ executive boards said the spike in new members is due to the University’s larger freshman class as well as a nationwide trend of greater interest in Greek life.
LSA senior Lauren Hartstein, vice president of internal recruitment for Panhel, said that based on Panhel’s records that started in 1972, this year’s number of pledges is the most on record. This year, 1,051 women registered to participate in the Panhel recruitment process compared to 887 women last year, according to Hartstein. She added that last year, 628 women were given bids to join a Panhel sorority.
Last year, IFC extended bids to 524 students, with 435 of those students accepting their bids, according to LSA senior Brett Vasicek, vice president of internal recruitment for IFC. This year, IFC extended at least one bid to 617 men, he said.
Nationally, there has been a growing interest in joining Greek-letter organizations among college students, Vasicek said.
“Fraternities are becoming more valued today,” he said.
This interest, together with the largest freshman class size to date — estimated at 6,300 students by University officials, according to a Sept. 13 article in The Michigan Daily — are most likely the causes for the boost in recruitees, Vasicek said.
IFC also decided to make recruitment one week later in the semester due to Jewish holidays in September, in addition to holding another day of events. These changes may have also led to more students having an interest in Greek life on campus as well.
The recruitment process allows interested students to find which house is the best fit for them by having “open houses,” Vasicek said.
The open houses are separated into categories based on geographic location, and rushees have the flexibility to choose which ones they visit, Vasicek said.
“This is a way to get interested guys to see as many houses as possible,” he said.
Unlike IFC’s open houses, Panhel’s recruitment is structured around four mixers, in which the recruitees visit all 15 chapters for the first mixer and a descending number of houses for each subsequent mixer. The last set of mixers, called “preference parties,” is the most formal of the recruitment events. Each woman in the recruitment process visits up to three chapters during this time. After the last mixer, the women are given their bids.
Panhel’s recruitment process hasn’t change dramatically from last year, Hartstein said, though the organization added another chapter and did more marketing over the summer.
Though Hartstein said she “would love to attribute” the increased recruitment numbers to their marketing, like Vasicek, she said that the increase is due to the large freshman class size and the increased interest in joining sororities both at the University and on college campuses across the country.
LSA freshman Kellie Brouillard just joined Delta Delta Delta sorority. She said the recruitment process was well organized and allowed her to effectively decide which house suited her best.
“We were all thrown into it really fast but I’m happy with how Panhel put it together,” Brouillard said. “The process is long but in the end I wouldn’t have wanted it to be done differently.”
Brouillard said she decided to join the Greek-letter community because many of her family members were involved in Greek life. She also said she wanted to broaden her social circle.
“I went into it to make more friends,” Brouillard said. “I wanted to meet new people and get really involved with philanthropy.”
Joining the Greek community makes Brouillard feel like she’s part of a large family, she said.
“It’s only been two weeks and these girls already feel like family,” she said. “I have friends that didn’t rush and they do regret not doing it because they see how many friends I’ve made and how much better I feel about myself.”
Though formal recruitment is over, IFC organizations are encouraged to recruit throughout the year, Vasicek said.
Nursing freshman Justin Palka, a new member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, said he was happy with IFC’s recruitment process.
“The process is solid,” Palka said. “You get to meet everyone and see which fraternity is a better fit for you.”
Palka said he chose to join the Greek community on campus to make the large University feel smaller since he came from a small high school. He added that his interest in community service also influenced his decision to go Greek since many fraternities on campus have a focus on philanthropy.
“My big thing was community outreach,” he said. “I didn’t want to just go to a party fraternity.”